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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 December 2007, 12:02 GMT
'I lost faith in justice'
By Sallie George
BBC News, England

Lorraine Allen
Lorraine Allen has always maintained her innocence
Lorraine Harris' life fell apart when she was accused of killing her four-month-old son by shaking him to death.

Jailed in 2000 for the manslaughter of baby Patrick, Ms Harris - now Mrs Allen - was prevented from attending his funeral, and was then to lose a second child.

A son, born as she began her sentence, was taken away just hours after she gave birth and forcibly adopted.

She said: "I will live with this for the rest of my life.

"They took part of my life away from me and they took my children off me. I was put in prison with sex offenders. I just wanted people to stay away from me."

'Not surprised'

The 38-year-old was to serve 16 months behind bars, and was electronically tagged on her release from prison.

But five years later, her conviction was quashed after lawyers argued medical opinion given by experts at her trial had changed, making the conviction unsafe.

She was one of four people who appealed against convictions for killing or harming babies by shaking them.

The test cases stemmed from a review of 297 cases ordered after Wiltshire woman Angela Cannings' convictions for murdering her two baby sons were overturned in 2003.

Patrick McGuire
Patrick McGuire was only four months old when he died

Seven years on, Mrs Allen's case is still ongoing. On Monday, solicitors acting for her went to the High Court to challenge a Home Office decision not to award her compensation.

The Home Office had said compensation should only be paid when a "newly discovered fact" established a clear miscarriage of justice. In her case, the new evidence was deemed to be simply a revised statement of a medical opinion, rather than a "newly discovered fact".

On Monday, a High Court judge accepted that the Home Office definition of what constituted a "newly discovered fact" was "too narrow", but said the Appeal Court ruling in 2005 "fell short of demonstrating beyond reasonable doubt that there has been a miscarriage of justice in this case".

Mrs Allen, formerly of Derbyshire, but now living in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, has always protested her innocence. She did not attend Monday's hearing but was told later by her solicitors that her bid had failed.

"It didn't surprise me", she said.

You walk down the street and see little kids and wonder, 'is that my son?'
Lorraine Allen

"It is never-ending. Since all this happened my faith in the law and the justice system has just gone. The medical experts that say these things [at trials] need to be 100% sure. It can't be an opinion whatsoever."

Mrs Allen said she was still struggling to come to terms with what had happened to her.

She said: "I've got a lot of anger. It shouldn't have happened, it did happen, and I'm not going to forget it.

"My conviction was quashed but it came too late for me."

Mrs Allen, who now lives with her husband Kelvin and has two daughters, aged 19 and 17, said one of the hardest things to cope with had been losing her second son, who was adopted, and will now be seven years old.

She said she accepted the view of her son's adoptive parents, who refused her contact on the basis that it would be too disruptive. All she knows is that he lives somewhere in Yorkshire.

"I suppose I have been lucky in some ways because I am getting on with it, but you walk down the street and see little kids and wonder, 'is that my son?'

"It's never going to be put behind me, but I try to put it to the back of my mind. It's not a good thing if I start to think about it too much.

"I'm just getting on with life."



SEE ALSO
Cleared mother loses cash battle
10 Dec 07 |  Derbyshire
Baby killer mother set to appeal
21 Apr 05 |  Derbyshire

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